• Liz Lopez

Flying American Airlines... for the last time

**Warning, this post contains explicit language stemming from my dislike for American Airlines at the time of publication

I’m not one to be unnecessarily harsh against a company; I realize not one organization can have it together all the time with multiple groups in play at once. Had it been one issue with American Airlines, I might let this fly under the radar. However, it was not one incident.

We almost missed our flight to Barbados TWICE folks.

Here is what happened, and for those headed to BIM, take heed of this advice. You’ve now been warned, so any flight you confirm with them is on you and at least you go into the situation knowing more than we knew.

WARNING: American Airlines has their own guidelines for letting people onto flights to Barbados. These rules are not listed anywhere online and they do not align with the many rules and regulations posted on the Barbados travel site.

Attempting to leave the country Take 1

Thursday morning rolled around and we checked the list fifty times before we left. We had everything we needed for Bow; we had passports, we had negative PCR COVID tests, we had the Customs and Immigration forms for all 6 of us. We rolled up to O’hare around 3 am and divided and conquered so Lopez could return the car. He made it back to us by the time we got to the front of the line. FYI, American’s checking counter opens at 3 am, and it gets busy very quickly. The second morning we arrived, we pulled up at 2:52 am to barely a line and by the time we got our van unloaded and made it inside, the line was an hour long. So if you’re flying AA, get there before 3 am if possible.

After we showed the crew member the passports and the boarding passes, he asked to see the Customs and Immigrations form. There are three mentions of this form on the Barbados travel site, but none of them state that the form must be filled out more than 24 hours before departure. The document that American uses to grant its customers permission to board their flights, says the forms must be filled out more than 24 hours prior to departure. We showed him where that is not specified on the Barbados travel and government site, he didn’t care. You already knew that. He also said we did NOT NEED COVID TESTS to travel to Barbados; also incorrect and contradicted nearly a dozen times on any travel related sites. Fast forward to our trip back home; we'd spent $400 dollars on a van to get us home and back and spent more time and money in quarantine than we needed to because of this snafu. Over it.

Attempting to leave the country Take 2

We have our checked bags tickets printed out and then Lucia, the lovely crew member, disappears and comes back with JUDY – I did not like Judy- and says we can’t board until we have return flights. “The whole point of the Welcome Stamp is that we don’t need return flights, and we don’t know when we’re coming home, we have a 9 month lease.” That bi&*h Judy did not care, much like stupid Mike the day before (it could have been John, Jacob, Jingleheimer Schmidt.. who knows). We explained, again, that the purpose of the Welcome Stamp is that you have up to 12 months, but she kept referencing her stupid f’in computer screen, like John/Jacob/Jingle. Lucia and Judy wandered around for some time, looking for another colleague that might actually know what they were doing but they came up empty- handed. So, we bought refundable tickets. We asked Lucia if we could return them right away and she said yes of course, she just needed the flight info. We bought the cheapest tickets, the following week, to another Caribbean island, for 6 tickets. Tell me this; if you have to buy tickets that they know you are returning, what the joke kind of policy is it?! Please explain, @AA.

At this point, my husband has had to tell me to cool it, which is the opposite of how it usually goes. Our flight was boarding, and we hadn’t checked our bags, no passing security, nothing. We were going to miss our flight AGAIN.

Then Judy asks for the dog crate, which the AA website clearly states is a carry on. We rush over to where the kids and Bow are, trying to stay awake and not kill each other (day two with wake up at midnight does not make for happiness in general) and grab the crate. F***ing Judy says no way, the crate is way too big. I tell Judy that the website clearly states that crates are allowed to be bigger than standard carry-ons, and Bow is an ESA dog and it is required for her import that the crate is with her when she lands. Judy, again, did not give a shit. She made us check it and said we could collect it in Miami and hope they would let us do carry on afterwards. I asked them, voice shaking, if they could hold the plane. But Judy and Lucia told me that they do not hold flights, it’s not policy. Is it policy to completely f*&k your customers out of their flight two days in a row Judy? I did not ask this obviously rhetorical question but I did assure Judy that people would know about their policy and how very unhelpful she was. She said that Liz, everyone would also know about me because she would have notes all over my name in their system. Judy, that doesn’t matter if I never fly on your shitty airline again. I rarely complain about a company, but yours was quite simply the worst. There’s a reason your airline has been rated WORST AIRLINE IN AMERICA three years in a row. I’ve never been voted anyone’s worst customer, ever, so take that.

Also, they lost Bow’s crate. They gave me a sticker with a number on it, apparently, but I didn’t realize it since they were giving me the countdown on ‘better get on in one minute or you can’t fly’. When we got to Miami, apparently I should have given the lady the sticker, but I didn’t see it until we were at our gate to board our flight to Barbados. Lopez hauled ass back to the Miami gate and the plane was gone. Goodbye crate and you’re still horrible AA.

On a separate note, thank you Paws R Us in Barbardos for responding to my Whats App note IMMEDIATELY and confirming that your transport man, Sean (shout out to Sean) would bring a crate so my dog was not ‘put back on the first plane to America’ as Llewellyn promised me would happen if EVERY STEP on the list was not followed to a tee. The crate, clearly, was one of the steps.

The whole two day ordeal with American Airlines was enough to give me several panic attacks and more than enough to make me never fly with them again. And AA, you’re one of three airlines flying to Barbados, and I’ll still encourage everyone I speak with to avoid you like the plague. I’ll pay a thousand dollars more to get home just to stay out of your hair with your made up guidelines and imaginary customer service.